A social justice hydroponics project of BC's Lynch School was among several exemplary University initiatives cited.

Boston College’s efforts in sustainability practices have once again been recognized by an organization leading efforts to promote conservation and sound environmental practices in higher education.

The University was featured in the recently-issued 2019 Sustainable Campus Index report from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, which last year awarded BC a Silver rating through its STARS—Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System—program.

SCI recognizes top-performing colleges and universities overall by institution type and in 17 sustainability impact areas, as measured by STARS, a voluntary framework used by many institutions of higher education to measure, report, and strengthen their contributions to global sustainability.  STARS participants submit data to earn the Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum ratings.  More than 500 higher education institutions in 12 countries supplied STARS reports in 2019.

BC’s “Social Justice Through Hydroponics,” a project within the College Bound Social Justice Through STEM Program conducted by the Lynch School of Education and Human Development, was one of 30 exemplary, university-based initiatives highlighted in the SCI. The hydroponics program, characterized by SCI as “innovative and high-impact, and advancing sustainability,” instructs middle and high school students from several Boston public and charter schools in how to grow vegetables without soil, and then sell the produce at farmer’s markets.

In addition to the hydroponics project, BC earned STARS credit for three other initiatives, according to Jennifer Foley, project manager at the University Institutional Research & Planning office: the Global Observatory on Pollution and Health, which tracks efforts to control pollution and prevent pollution-related diseases that account for an estimated nine million deaths worldwide each year; the Law School’s Environmental Law Teaching Seminar, which enables upper-year law students in the Greater Boston area to teach a university-level undergraduate Environmental Law and Policy course at BC; and University Libraries’ “Greener Lib,” a staff-initiated program that features an annual summer “green” film series, brown bag talks on environmental topics, an annual “green” book display during BC’s Green Month, and participation in campus “green” fairs.  

A direct outcome of the 2019 STARS submission was an eight-point increase—from 76 to 84—in BC’s “Green Rating” from the Princeton Review, the influential college admissions guide.  This rating, on a scale of 60-99, provides a comprehensive measure of a school’s performance as an environmentally aware and prepared institution, an important factor in a student’s decision to apply to or attend a college, according to the guide.  

For more information about The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and its programs, visit the AASHE website.

Phil Gloudemans | University Communications | January 2020